Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: Social Media Failures and Successes

Social media is becoming a staple communication tool for brands. When it’s used correctly, brands can successfully build their image and their relationships with consumers. However, social media is prone to human error and lack of good judgment, which can tarnish relationships with followers and cause crises for brands.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post – an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary – we look at recent social media failures and successes. Kmart’s response to negative social media feedback, Home Depot’s controversial tweet, using Facebook to spread a global movement and Kool-Aid’s innovative app are all covered in this week’s post. We also look at Charmin’s quick tweet-and-delete.

Kmart Is Getting Stuffed for Opening on Thanksgiving Morning, and Its Tweets Aren’t Helping (AdWeek)

With the holiday season approaching, Kmart has announced that it will open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving for Black Friday shopping. To accommodate holiday shoppers, the chain will staff its stores “with seasonal associates where possible, giving the opportunity to make some additional money this season,” according its official Twitter account. Kmart has received backlash by those who are concerned that its holiday hours are intrusive on family time.

Many have taken to social media to express their dissatisfaction. In response to negative comments, Kmart goes against social media best practices by repeatedly responding with the same comment, as opposed to personal messages to address complaints. Variations of the same tweet were used over 150 times in 48 hours, which have since been deleted.

Home Depot Apologizes for Racist Tweet Sent From Its Twitter Account (ABC News)

Home Depot is doing damage control after a racist tweet and accompanying photo were posted on its Twitter account late last week. The store quickly deleted the controversial tweet, issued an apology and terminated the agency and Home Depot employee involved with posting it. “We’re also closely reviewing our social media procedures to determine how this could have happened, and how to ensure it never happens again,” the store stated in its apology.

The apology has received mixed reviews from the public. Some are unsatisfied with it, claiming Home Depot is using the agency as a scapegoat, while others support the store’s quick response and effort to reassess its social media practices. The original tweet and photo can be viewed in the article.

Facebook Spreads Global ‘Humans of’ Photography Movement (Mashable)

Facebook is being used to spread a movement throughout cities worldwide. “Humans of New York” is a Facebook page that features candid photos and authentic stories of New Yorkers. The page has gone viral, and “Humans of” pages are being created for cities throughout the world.

As the main platform for the “Humans of” pages, Facebook allows the movement’s pages to become “part of a growing photography community” that is “gaining global feedback and followers,” the article states. “Humans of” effectively taps into Facebook’s ability to create a global community and helps people throughout the world to join the movement.

Drew Neisser: Look Who’s Drinking the Social Media Kool-Aid Now (PSFK)

Kool-Aid has crafted a new campaign by incorporating age-appropriate social media platforms into their strategy. Upon learning that Facebook’s fan base is predominately around 18 years old, the brand turned to mobile strategies to reach their largest clientele: moms. To reach moms – who frequently partake in mobile photo sharing – Kool-Aid created an app that allows users to insert the Kool-Aid Man as a “photobomb” into their own pictures.

With over 150,000 downloads, the brand has seen images shared across various social media channels. “The Kool-Aid Photobomb app was designed to take advantage of the native social sharing that’s embedded in millions of Android and iOS devices,” the article states.

Why Did Charmin Delete This Great Thor Tweet?  (PR Newser)

To tie into the upcoming Thor 2 premier, Charmin tweeted a play on the word “Asgardian” and photo of   a Charmin bear in theme-appropriate costume. However, the punny tweet was deleted very shortly after it was posted. The brand often uses humor in their messaging due to the nature of its product, so many are questioning why the tweet was deleted.

Some speculate that the deletion was part of their social media strategy to “increase the conversation and keep it in the news,” while others suggest that it was because the messaging was deemed to be too inappropriate. Ultimately, the tweet may have been deleted due to copyright issues, but still raises the question: if messaging is consistent with the image of the brand but may be considered offensive by some, is this situation a social media failure or success?

Faith Goumas is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

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